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University of Canberra announces Professor Paddy Nixon as new Vice-Chancellor

20 December 2019: The University of Canberra today announced Professor Paddy Nixon as the sixth Vice-Chancellor and President. Professor Nixon will begin his tenure in June 2020.

“We are delighted to welcome Professor Nixon to our progressive city, and innovative university,” said Professor Tom Calma AO, Chancellor of the University of Canberra. “His distinctive skill set and experience in inspiring staff, bridging industry and research; championing a Civic University ethos deeply embedded in the community; and his student-centric approach make him a perfect fit to lead UC into the future under our Distinctive by Design strategic plan, and beyond.”

Professor Nixon holds a PhD in Computer Engineering from Sheffield University. A technologist and computer scientist, Professor Nixon is currently the Vice-Chancellor of the multi-campus Ulster University in Northern Ireland. No stranger to Australian shores, he moved to Tasmania in 2010 as Pro Vice-Chancellor Research for the University of Tasmania, and was subsequently promoted to the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research from 2011-15—delivering significant growth in both rankings and research funding—before returning to the United Kingdom.

Professor Nixon understands the nexus of university research and the interface between universities and industry, having significant industrial and commercial experience through collaborations with INTEL, Microsoft Research, HP, Oracle and IBM.

He is deeply committed to the civic obligations of a university and recognises the critical role the University of Canberra plays in the ACT. Professor Nixon believes modern universities need compelling engagement: with students, with staff, industry and with the community to have a consistently compelling experience.

“I am a passionate advocate for continuing a place-based mission to further the impact of a university not only on students, but also the broader community,” said Professor Nixon, the incoming Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Canberra.

“Canberra is uniquely placed, I believe, to be the national exemplar of such a modern Civic University. Canberra has always been an innovator and willing to challenge; a University that stands out for being innovative, unapologetically ambitious and ready to evolve in response to a changing global context,” he said.   

Professor Nixon sees the student experience at the heart of a successful university. Through a dedication to a comprehensive re-envisaging of the student journey, Ulster University was awarded the Times Higher Education award for Most Improved Student Services. He has a deep commitment to a student-centric approach across all areas of the student experience—from face-to-face to online.

“As a first of family to attend university I have a personal understanding of the significant impact a university education can have and, hence, I am deeply passionate about the civic role of a university and its core purpose of educational opportunity for all.”

Professor Nixon is a Fellow of the British Computer Society and the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.  He was recently appointed Vice-President of Universities UK and Chair of the National Review of University Admissions policy in the UK.  

Professor Nixon succeeds Professor Deep Saini who steps down today after three-and-a-half years in the role to return to Canada to be closer to his family and take up a new position as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dalhousie.